Investing in public transport as a whole is a key priority for the future. As the Deputy is aware, the Government’s ten-year National Development Plan will be published shortly along with the National Planning Framework. The National Development Plan will prioritise key investment actions that protect the quality and value of the existing extensive public transport networks. It will also progress new key capital public transport programmes over the period to 2027 to address urban congestion and emerging capacity constraints in our main cities. Investment in any new public transport programmes under the National Development Plan will be subject to the relevant appraisal processes and value for money tests as required under the Public Spending Code.
In line with the recommendations of my Department's 2015 Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport, prioritisation of the type of investment in transport to protect the quality and value of the existing extensive rail networks is also a key finding of a recent Public Investment Management Assessment which was conducted by the International Monetary Fund at the invitation of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
The role and potential of rail is intrinsically linked to where people live, work and wish to travel and these very issues form the core of the Government’s new National Planning Framework over the period to 2040. The National Planning Framework will form an important context for consideration of issues raised by the Rail Review Report which was undertaken jointly by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Iarnród Éireann and published in late 2016. As the Deputy is aware, the NTA held a public consultation on the published Review which helped to begin an informed discussion about the current and future role of rail transport in Ireland. Over 300 submissions were received in response to that consultation process. The NTA has prepared a report of those submissions, which it has just updated to reflect the additional funding which has been made available for rail infrastructure and services in Budget 2018. Once I have reviewed the NTA’s updated report on the Rail Review consultation, it is my intention to bring it to Government for consideration.